Making ‘talk’ part of your process with clients
Whether planned or not, businesses became a whole lot more acquainted with their accountants in 2020. Come March, urgent help was needed to navigate government loans, furlough schemes and cash flow forecasts. All this led to a lot more conversations.
For lots of accountants, all this talk — albeit over video — led to stronger client relationships. And those that have maintained the same cadence of client communication are now well positioned to provide even greater value going into a new year, beyond Coronavirus support.
We caught up with Peter Jarman who runs PJCO accountants to talk about, well… talking! Peter has been able to develop a robust process for making sure he and his team stay close to clients. This has been essential for keeping clients and team members happy and engaged and has enabled his practice to prosper.
‘Talking’ is no longer once a year!
For Peter Jarman and the team at PJCO, the power of conversation isn’t anything new. The amount he and his team talk to clients has increased dramatically over the past few years.
“When I started out, I used to speak to clients once or twice a year but things have changed a lot! Now, when we take on a new client, we say, ok, how can we get into a conversation that is more than annual, more than quarterly, more than monthly, ideally daily?!”Peter Jarman, PJCO
When Peter and his team take on a new client, they begin by introducing them to Quickbooks Online. They run through initial software onboarding via a video call and then provide their clients with a library of training videos. After a few weeks they check back-in to see how their clients are getting along. If they’re struggling, it’s a great opportunity for PJCO to step in and offer additional bookkeeping services. From here, a team member organises regular recurring meetings with the client to make sure everything is running smoothly.
For Peter, regular communication is key to running a successful accounting firm.
“The more we talk to our clients, the more we become involved in their business. Once we’re fully involved, questions around our costs tend to disappear, as the value we provide is clear. We become accepted as part of the team.”Peter Jarman, PJCO
Talking makes client work more interesting too. Peter and his team have found that the more their clients trust them, the more they get asked to work on some of the more exciting projects. This is crucial to keeping his ambitious team motivated and engaged, says Peter.
A process for better communication
Peter has recently introduced Connect4 to the team at PJCO. He uses it to help make client communication — now largely remote — easier for the team to manage and keep track of. Even with the best intentions, communications can slip; especially when there’s a lot going on in the outside world.
For Peter and the team, it’s crucial that there is a solid process in place that makes conversation central to client management. Connect4 helps to structure this process. It holds the whole team more accountable, ensuring that every client is spoken to on a regular basis.
Connect4 allows Peter and his team to organise recurring meetings with all of his clients. He can very easily see at a glance when they last spoke to any given organisation. And, the team can keep track of everything that is discussed, allowing them to work quickly and efficiently. No more trying to remember what was spoken about.
Setting proper meeting agendas is also very important for PJCO. Even if not every point is covered on a video call, keeping a record in Connect4 makes it easy to carry forward important issues into future conversations, says Peter. Feedback from clients using Connect4 so far has been great. PJCOs whitelabelled platform looks professional and the suite of tools have made meetings much more organised.
Peter is always looking for ways to improve his business and his offering to clients and sums up his experiences with Connect4 as follows:
“Every now and then I see an app that looks like it will make a real improvement to the way accountancy business owners run their business and Connect4 is doing just that!”Peter Jarman, PJCO
Rory is Connect4’s Head of Design. He leads the design of the app as well as all things related to the Connect4 brand.